Before the girl learned to please herself, she turned everything to gold.
Her family proclaimed it a miracle, said she had been born under a bloodless sky, that the sun had wormed its way into her chest like the maggots glinting bone-white under the flesh of dirt. A miracle—that's why they paraded her at dinner parties in a milky dress and held up object after object for her to stroke, marveling at the little girl who could make the smallest of men wealthy.
For a while, playing dress-up was fun. The girl blossomed in the spotlight, shucking off her prepubescent shape so fast her parents barely had time to tell her to cover up. They only asked that her hands stay clean, but the girl took to wearing gloves anyway. Touch was ownership, and that was a dangerous thing. Once, she had stolen her fingerprints from the ripples in the pondwater. Once, she had climbed a tree in her cream-pale dress and unraveled midflight from its branches. Once, she had touched her younger sister, and her pores had bloated with gold until they had no choice but to sink her in the pond.
Of course, her family proclaimed that a miracle. Her older brother fished their sister out with a bowl and fisted her into parts, limbs that were always meant to be bartered and sold. With her teeth, he bought an array of drinking glasses. With her hair, he fashioned his girlfriend a ring. With her heart, he moved into a house with no pond and ceilings so vaulted they confused the birds.
When the girl visited, her brother kissed her feet and asked her to touch his houseplants. They were straggly, hunchbacked things that sucked up more water than they returned, and he begged her to twist them into gold, to bless them with her ownership. That was where it always stopped: her peeling off her gloves and ripening wealth between his lips like a peach, playing dress-up in infinite mansions and polishing unworthy men into gods.
Before the girl buried her brother, she liked to think she was a story, the part where it starts to come true in bits and pieces and shiny little things. It would be poetic if her mother didn't line up a checklist of dolls for her to transmute every morning, saying breakfast could come after wealth even though the girl knew you couldn't eat nuggets of gold. She had tried once and only earned a chipped tooth for her effort. As soon as she cradled the moon-shard, it had scabbed over with yellow, hard enough for her to hold against her brother's neck until he face-kissed the maggot-thick dirt.
The girl sunk him into the pond and weighed his girlfriend free with no ring and twin pockets of gold. Of course, her family proclaimed that a tragedy. They let the maggots tendril over the backyard and around the banisters until the girl broke off another tooth and gave it to them for rent. That day, she didn't eat breakfast until the moon fleshed the sky.
At night, she played dress-up, unzipping and reseaming her skin until she shone brighter than any gilded greed. To her, that was a miracle: a girl making a home of something stolen. She paraded herself that way, half-nude and dripping with fingerprints, until her parents begged her to cover up, to hide her milk-skin wrinkles because wealthy men need small girls and your brother wouldn't have wanted this and don't you want your family to be happy.
The girl answered that she wanted pleasure, not happiness. One day, she touched everything that wasn't hers. Her entire life a turgid sun that she scraped and scraped until it became a single pond, rounded into an O and serrated with all the objects she had ever claimed, all the people she had ever gifted into worthless gods. Her family proclaimed that reckoning a sin.
At the dinner table, in her lacy white dress, the girl roped their breaths with her fingers until she had more bodies to float like birds gone belly-up in the pond. Once, they sank without a ripple under a blood-bleached sky. The girl slid her gloves back on and was pleased. She was not a god.
Dana Blatte is a sixteen-year-old from Massachusetts. Her work is published or forthcoming in Fractured Lit, Kissing Dynamite, Parentheses Journal
and more, and has been recognized by the Pulitzer Center and the American Jewish Historical Society, among others. You can find her on Twitter @infflorescence